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Foreign Affairs for Bush, Gore

May 18, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Visits with foreign leaders and discussion of foreign policy are on the agendas for presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore next week.

Gore, the Democratic vice president, is to meet Monday with Thabo Mbeki, the South African president who will be on his first state visit to the United States. Gore and Mbeki co-chair the U.S.-South Africa Binational Committee dealing with the two countries’ relations.

Bush, the Republican governor of Texas, also is expected in Washington next Monday for a speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential lobbying group. He also plans to meet Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, said spokesman Scott McClellan.

Gore addresses the same organization on Tuesday.

Bush also is scheduled to meet May 25 in Austin, Texas, with Mbeki, McClellan said. Mbeki has expressed interest in meeting with Bush during a visit to Texas.

Bush has been working to overcome criticism that he is too inexperienced on foreign affairs.

Last month, he met for an hour with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who requested the session. That meeting came two days after Bush made a brief foray into Mexico for a bridge dedication ceremony and a speech boosting free trade.

As vice president, Gore has been deeply involved in foreign affairs and has met numerous foreign leaders. He has established close relationships with top Russian officials.

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